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Wednesday, 24 October 2018

For fans of heavy metal, crime and murder mystery fiction. This is a must read! #giveaway @metalmamawrites @rararesources #heavymetal #liverpool #fiction #hardrock #heavymetal

Catherine Fearns

Are you one of the elect?

Dr Helen Hope is a lecturer in eschatology – the study of death, judgement, and the destiny of humankind. She is also a Calvinist nun, her life devoted to atoning for a secret crime.

When a body is found crucified on a Liverpool beach, she forms an unlikely alliance with suspect Mikko Kristensen, lead guitarist in death metal band Total Depravity. Together, they go on the trail of a rogue geneticist who they believe holds the key – not just to the murder, but to something much darker.

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  Also on the trail is cynical Scouse detective Darren Swift. In his first murder case, he must confront his own lack of faith as a series of horrific crimes drag the city of two cathedrals to the gates of hell.

Science meets religious belief in this gripping murder mystery.

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Giveaway to win a gift pack which would include a signed book, tote bag, t-shirt, magnet, guitar picks, temporary tattoos and postcards (Open Internationally)

The theme on WWBB is all devoted to the character, and today Catherine Fearns discusses her character Mikko Kristensen

The character of Mikko Kristensen, Reprobation

Mikko Kristensen is the frontman of Norwegian death metal band Total Depravity, who has just begun a UK tour when Reprobation begins. Mikko is the vocalist, lead guitarist and composer, and in contrast to his hulking, Viking-like bandmates, he is small and somewhat fragile, with long blond hair and a straggling beard and moustache. He is covered in tattoos and wears heavy black eye make-up; all of this combined gave him the appearance of a demonic Jesus.

He is a character of fascinating contradictions; hero-worshipped within the world of heavy metal, but unknown outside of it and struggling financially. His band courts controversy for their Satanic lyrics and offensive anti-religious imagery, yet he is kind and gentle off-stage. His speech is inane and littered with swearing, yet his music is beautiful and eloquent.

Mikko becomes embroiled in a murder case when a body is found crucified on a Liverpool beach two nights after Total Depravity played a concert in the city. Carved into the victim’s forehead is a biblical quotation plus the band’s logo: an inverted double-headed axe, or labrys.

So it doesn’t help Mikko’s case that his band has been frequently accused of Satanism and is known for their obsessive hatred of religion. To clear his name, he teams up with a far less likely suspect, Calvinist nun Sister Helen Hope, and in their race against the police and the murderer, they go on a terrifying spiritual journey.

Mikko and Helen are drawn together by tragic secrets from their past, and when Mikko tells Helen about a dream that has haunted him since he was a child, it sets in motion a series of events that will change their lives forever.

Mikko is not the main character in Reprobation, but he is my favourite, and most of my beta readers seemed to agree. I’m a metal journalist and a metal fan. I have an encyclopaedic knowledge of heavy metal, I’ve met a lot of bands, been to a lot of concerts, and generally love writing about music. So it was perhaps inevitable that I would create a character who inhabits this world that I know so well. The musical scenes in the book were both the easiest and the most enjoyable for me to write.

And Mikko is definitely inspired by real-life heavy metal characters. He is probably an amalgam of Randy Rhoads and Alexi Laiho, with a bit of Norwegian black metal mystery thrown in. Randy Rhoads was an American guitarist best known for playing with Ozzy Osbourne, and he tragically died in a plane crash in 1982, aged just twenty-five. His neoclassical technique revolutionised electric guitar playing, raising the standards forever. I have watched Youtube videos of this diminutive blond genius countless times, and the thought of what he could have achieved had he lived still moves me to tears. What came across most from his performances and interviews were joy, innocence and kindness, despite Rhoads inhabiting this seemingly-aggressive world surrounded by drugs and alcohol, and despite him composing music about the devil and demons.

Alexi Laiho is the frontman of Finnish melodic death metal band Children of Bodom, one of my favourite bands. They are named after a gruesome 1960 multiple murder at Lake Bodom in Finland, in which the sole survivor claimed that the murderer was the Grim Reaper. Consequently, all Children of Bodom’s album covers feature a hooded Reaper figure, and this artwork was my initial attraction to the band because when I was a child, I was haunted by dreams of the Grim Reaper, like the character Mikko.

As with Mikko and Rhoads, Alexi Laiho is diminutive, blond, tattooed and somewhat fragile-looking, and he frequently wears black eye make-up. But it is mainly his voice that inspired me. He speaks perfect English, with an Americanised drawl, but his language is so full of swearing as to be almost an affectation. This studied ineloquence belies a musical intelligence that is undeniable; his compositions are beautiful. As if he is embarrassed by what he has created and unconsciously wishes to subvert it. And I find that contradiction so endearing that I couldn’t resist imitating it. I hope if he ever found out he would not be offended, because he is one of my heroes, and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

I made Mikko Norwegian bring in some Norwegian mythology; both from metal and from old Norse. Like Helen, he is drawn to coastlines, liminal places. His Norwegian background also brings suspicion; Norway is the ‘spiritual’ home of satanic metal and suffered a spate of church burnings by black metal fans in the 1990s. Is Mikko really a Satanist or is it just a gimmick? His name is more Finnish and Danish than Norwegian, but I just like the name Mikko, and the surname Kristensen has the obvious Christ-like connotations.

Most of the characters in Reprobation go on a spiritual journey, but Mikko’s journey is that he falls in love. He begins to discover, through Helen, the sort of person that he truly is, behind the mask of a nihilistic, drug-addicted guitarist. He is brave, funny, principled and kind. Readers might suspect him, or they might love him; what I can promise is that his story will not end with Reprobation.

You can read an interview with Mikko here:

Catherine Fearns is a writer from Liverpool, UK. Her first novel, a crime thriller called ‘Reprobation’, will be published by Crooked Cat Books in October 2018.

As a music journalist, Catherine is a regular contributor to Pure Grain Audio, and she has also published numerous pieces of short fiction and non-fiction. Catherine has a degree from Oxford University and a Masters from the London School of Economics. She began her career as a financial analyst, but after having four children, she retrained as a breastfeeding counsellor.

Having lived in several countries, she recently moved to Switzerland, where she discovered her love of writing and is a member of the Geneva Writers’ Group. She plays the piano very well but prefers to play the guitar very badly.

Oh, and she likes metal music. A lot. 

Giveaway to win a gift pack which would include a signed book, tote bag, t-shirt, magnet, guitar picks, temporary tattoos and postcards (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days, then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, except the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
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